Marcel Proust

by Edmund White

Hardcover, 1999




New York : Lipper/Viking, c1999.


"Considered the greatest - and most influential - writer of the twentieth century, Marcel Proust was also one of its most fascinating figures. In this portrait, Edmund White, author of an acclaimed biography of Jean Genet and the much admired novel A Boy's Own Story displays a rare understanding of this most complex man. A strange, reclusive genius who often lay in bed for days at a time in his cork-lined room, obsessively rewriting his masterpiece, Remembrance of Things Past, Proust was at other times a tireless socialite, attending the grandest parties and dazzling the guests - especially the most important ones - with his vivacity and wit. White also depicts the yearning, lonely boy, the ambitious grasper after honors, and the miserably closeted homosexual, an aspect of his life that this book explores frankly and perceptively."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member fraxi
Yet another short book on Proust, but very different from Alain De Botton's book. Edmund White concentrates on Proust from a homosexual viewpoint. Witty and anecdotal it may be, but White gives a succint overview of proust's life and work. Useful bibliography on the works, and biograpies of Proust. Recommended.
LibraryThing member thorold
More of an extended introduction to A la recherche du temps perdu than a biography, really — a handy little guide to what Proust is all about, with the emphasis, as you would expect from White, on Proust's sexuality, but also quite illuminating on his snobbishness and on his semi-hidden Jewish background. Very interesting.… (more)
LibraryThing member stillatim
A little disappointing; White writes very well for the most part, and the book is well-structured for the most part... but the bits that are poorly written just stick out all the more thanks to that (if I never again read "Just as x... so, in the same way, y", I will be particularly glad). There's a tad too much repetition for a 150 page biography, as well. White tried to do something good with the structure (chapters in chronological order, with each chapter also being a bit thematic), but one only has to be told once that Just as Proust offered to buy his chaffeur a plane, so, in the same way, does the narrator offer to buy Albertine a yacht. Once, not thrice. The lack of an index is quite a pain, too.

For all that, it's a nice read if you've read the novel, and a nearly perfect airplane book. White cribbed so much from Tadie's 'Marcel Proust' that he felt the need to announce as much on the copyright page, so if you've recently read that one, you probably don't need to read this. The converse is not the case.
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